(Claire Hodge, 2010)
A new show at aceart invites you to mix it up with fight footage of iconic martial arts star Bruce Lee. Smart, succinct and super-fun, Bruce-O-Rama is like Wii with subtext.
Halifax-based artist Claire Hodge, who graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, did her first degree in music with a minor in film. She's done projects involving appropriated footage from Franςois Truffaut and Sergio Leone.
Bruce-O-Rama consists of three works, all set in a darkened room. In "Flamenco Bruce," Hodge (who is a trained flamenco guitarist) edits fight scenes to the passionate, percussive rhythms of flamenco, underlining the controlled and choreographed nature of classic kung fu films. Smash consists of Bruce Lee's foot kicking dozens of hapless kung fu victims from dozens of films. Repetitive and ritualistic, this video loop is both comic and elegant.
In the exhibit's central work, Hodge places six sensor panels on the floor, which correspond to video panels on a large screen showing sequences from Enter the Dragon and other influential Lee films. By skipping and hopping and running around, you construct your own Bruce Lee visuals. Add in a few other people, also skipping and hopping, and the experience becomes layered and unpredictable.
Hodge wants to expand two-dimensional cinematic space into 3D real-world space. She's challenging traditional models of viewing -- the passive sitting of the movie theatre and the polite standing and staring of the art gallery -- and demanding an active, engaged, physical response.
The show also deals with the techniques used to create visual narratives. As 21st-century people, we're so accustomed to viewing the world through film and video that we often don't see these techniques anymore. Hodge deconstructs them, making us newly aware. And she does it in a fun, kick-ass way.
(And I have to say, aceart really has become the fun gallery around town. In recent months, they've set up the gallery space for roller skating, held raves, and organized subversive sewing bees. They're currently all hepped up for the Sept. 11 artist soapbox derby.)
Alison Gillmor, CBC Reviewer